Misting systems are often used to combat heat stress, and schools and daycare facilities are not an exception. Allowing children a safe place for exertion can enhance existing educational programs. With lunch and activity breaks often outdoors, providing a cool, comfortable location where students can seek relief from the heat is paramount to schools, daycare centers and parents alike.
Kids thrive when they are given outdoor breaks throughout the day where they can expend their energy. The most recent research in neurosciences state that “playing” for children is not considered a waste of time. It has been shown with the emergence of the cognitive perspective that children actually learn better, make more resilient memories and are able to go on to more complex concepts faster if they are provided with enough types of play that engage both physical expenditures as well as intellectual ones.
When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.
“The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain,” says Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. “And without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed,” he says. It is those changes in the prefrontal cortex during childhood that help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems, Pellis says. So play, he adds, is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork. But to produce this sort of brain development, children need to engage in plenty of so-called free play, Pellis says. No coaches, no umpires, no rule books.
Children are especially vulnerable to heat stress
Children are among those most at risk for these illnesses. One reason is because they don’t adjust to changes in environmental heat as quickly as adults do. In addition, they sweat less and produce more body heat than adults do when engaging in physical activity. Kids also may not always think to rest and drink enough fluids when playing, participating in sports and playing.
Some children are more susceptible than others to heat-related illnesses, including those who:
- Have chronic health conditions
- Take certain medications
- Are overweight or obese
- Wear heavy clothing, such as marching band or football uniforms, during physical activity
- Have had a heat-related illness before
Adding misting systems to their lunch areas for a cooled break or misting to playground areas for safer play in the hot months provides a climatically controlled environment for them to thrive in. Our children truly are our future.